There can be arguments all day long uncovering which is the most important organ of the human body, but a lot can be said about our eyes. Humans are after all visual creatures who are motivated by what we see. It is why we spend money refreshing our wardrobe, beauty products to maintain our good looks and who else is guilty of those manicure sessions every fortnight?
Considering how mealtimes are a few of those times when we literally utilise all of our senses to fully consume a meal, shouldn’t it then make sense that the manner in which our food is served would actually impact how much we eat?
Science can actually provide a really reasonable explanation why we gobble our food up at certain environments and not at another one. Interestingly, it is in the plates that we feed off that has an integral role in our hunger and how much we eat.
The Right Colour
It has been said that when diners eat off plates where there is a stark contrast in colours between the plate and the food, they are more likely to eat lesser since the portion stands out more than it does on a plate of a lighter tone. Since the food stands out instead of blending in, it creates an illusion in which the portion appears much larger.
Another research found out that when test subjects were asked to eat off red plates, a majority of them ate much lesser and this seems to go hand in hand with the previous theory about the colour contrasts between plate and food. For instance, if you are cooking a tomato-based pasta, serve your meal up on a white plate, likewise, try serving your carbonara cream pasta on an attention-grabbing red plate.
But if you are taking that advice, a tip from most chefs is to avoid putting certain food items onto your plate just to introduce a splash of colour. When you add unnecessary garnish like a slice of red pepper or chilli, the dish may get top marks for presentation, but they may not combine or complement the main dish well enough. Since each ingredient has a certain balance and texture, it is important to see how they all contribute to the final composition of the dish. When that happens, you might feel unsatisfied with your meal and in turn, that could lead you to finishing your meal with dessert or snack to compensate for the mediocre meal.
The Right Size
Size matters and it is as such when it comes to mealtimes. How weight loss happens is when the body takes in much lesser calories than it burns. A common hack that most fitness enthusiasts utilise is to trick your brain into thinking that your body is taking in more than you are. An illusion that researchers discovered was that the use of a smaller plate actually helps to cut one’s calorie intake. Just a minor shift from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate actually cuts about one-fifth of your usual calorie intake.
This hack is what some would call the Delboeuf Illusion — it happens when the brain automatically construes objects to be smaller when compared to something larger. Thus, when you place a small amount of food on a large platter, you might believe that what you are only having a smaller portion and because of that, you are more likely to return for second servings. Swap your plate out for a smaller one and you might realise that the very same portion might feel bigger and more filling.
Chop and Change
If you are looking to drastically transform yourself, the best way is still change. By that we mean a complete change in lifestyle in which you have to include some form of exercise in your day and to follow a stricter (the keyword here is ‘stricter’, not ‘strict’) diet. Even though they are two very difficult tasks to put your mind to, devote 30 days to this new lifestyle and you might see some positive changes in your life.
It won’t be long till you realise that you will have the discipline and willpower to say no to your cravings as and when they come to mind. When you adapt your eating behaviours, you will understand how your body responds to certain food like those with high fats and high sodium and make better informed decisions.
Another alternative that we have mentioned earlier is to change the environment around you. The little things like staying an arm’s length away from your temptations, not eating in front of the television, swapping out the colour and size of your serving plates, you will find yourself being able to play little tricks that your mind struggles to comprehend. A simple way in which you can bring interest to even the most bland food is to swap out your traditional porcelain for unique plates like a wooden slate board to serve your first dish.
The biggest takeaway from this is that when you stick to something for a long time, it creates a routine that could very easily evolve into a habit.